FoodHACCP Newsletter
07/22 2013 ISSUE:557

 

Wash and Dry Produce To Reduce Cyclospora, Food Poisoning Risk
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/wash-and-dry-produce-to-reduce-cyclospora-food-poisoning-risk/
By Carla Gillespie (July 21,2013)
If you’re like most people, you wash your produce before eating it. But do you dry it?  You should, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Hundreds of people in six states; Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas and Wisconsin have been sickened by a single-cell parasite called Cyclospora. To reduce your risk of food poisoning form fresh produce the FDA recommends the following produce-washing tips. Before you begin, wash your hands with hot, soapy water for 20 seconds, or long enough to sing Happy Birthday twice. Wash produce under cool, running water. Do not use soap or commercial washes. Scrub firm produce such as melons, cucumbers and potatoes with a brush. Dry the produce with a clean cloth or paper towel. Following these recommendations will reduce but not completely eliminate the risk of food poisoning from bacteria or parasites.
People become infected with Cyclospora when they eat or drink food or water that is contaminated with microscopic amounts of fecal matter containing the parasite. Cyclospora is most commonly found in tropical climates but imported foods including mesclun lettuce, basil, snow peas, and raspberries have been the source of a number of U.S. outbreaks in recent years.
Symptoms of a Cyclospora infection include watery or explosive diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, bloating, gassiness, abdominal cramps, weight loss, loss of appetite, low-grade fever, fatigue and malaise.  These symptoms, which can persist for up to two months, can cause dehydration. See a doctor if you have had these symptoms for more than a few days especially if you have sunken eyes, reduced urine output, reduced tear production or dry mouth or tongue, which are symptoms of dehydration.

Kicking up food safety in strawberry industry
Source : http://www.thecalifornian.com/article/20130721/NEWS/307210012/Kicking-up-food-safety-strawberry-industry?nclick_check=1
By thecalifornian.com (July 21, 2013)
Farming is a dynamic process. I have the utmost respect for those who grow our food – their job is unrelenting, full of the details important to manage worker safety, soil fertility, irrigation, and pests and diseases, all the while mindful of the things that might contaminate their crop, rendering it worthless in the market, or even worse, cause illness.
One of the most critical considerations to getting fruit and vegetables to market is, “Is it safe?” Microbes are all around us, yet there are a few that can have dire health consequences if consumed. While some produce headed to the market are processed with a “kill step” to eliminate microbes, there are no such steps in the delivery of fresh produce.
The best that farmers can do is to manage the risks: identify the potential points for contamination and maintain practices that will minimize the risk of contamination. How do farmers do this? Well, every farm is different, and different crops present different risks. Some people are surprised to learn that strawberries are a hand-harvested, field-packed fruit. This means that every single berry is harvested by a human hand, and packed into a container as it is harvested in the field. This means that there is no sorting, washing or re-packing in a packing house. When you buy your strawberries, chances are high that the last person who touched those berries is the person who harvested those berries.
Recognizing the importance of clean hands in the harvest, strawberry growers decided to put their resources toward food safety initiatives. One endeavor was the development of science-based, strawberry-specific food safety guidelines for farmers and ranch managers. To develop these guidelines, the California Strawberry Commission marshaled the best food safety science minds to build and vet guidelines and standard operating procedures specific to growing and harvesting strawberries in California. Detailed outlines and procedures address potential sources of contamination, and ways to monitor and document farming activities that help prevent contamination. A living document, these guidelines are updated as science provides new information about food safety practices.
(Page 2 of 2)
Based on these guidelines, the Commission developed a training program for crew supervisors to educate their harvest crews. Designing this program required not only science resources, but experts in adult education and learning. The training tools had to be low-tech (no electricity or batteries required) for use in the field, and easy to understand. The result? A 65-page flipchart with illustrations shows typical field settings for crew supervisors to train their crews.
But, developing a tool is not useful if you don’t have enough information to know why you need the tool, let alone how to use it. Beginning with a pilot class in 2009, the program has now broadened in scope to encompass five classes, including training on how to be a good instructor in the field. In 2010, the commission received the NSF International Food Safety Award in Training in recognition for this comprehensive work.
In the fall of 2012, the Commission launched a Food Safety Certificate Program. The program consolidates all of the food safety classes developed since 2009 into a five-class curriculum for anyone with food safety responsibilities. Through these five classes, the program teaches key food safety practices necessary to minimize the risk of microbial contamination during the harvest, and the importance of on-farm assessments and documentation. Participants must pass a test on the content for each class to earn a food safety education certificate.
The program has trained hundreds of field supervisors, which impacts a majority of harvest workers. The commission education staff continues to work with farmers and crew supervisors to further improve food safety education and practices in the field.
Despite all of these guidelines and procedures and training, you, as a consumer, also have a food safety responsibility. Always wash your hands before preparing food, and always wash fresh produce before preparing and eating. Certainly we have seen a number of high profile food-borne illness outbreaks that occurred before the produce reached the market. But, many times these illnesses are a result of rushed or careless food preparation practices.
We live in a remarkable place, blessed with an abundance and diversity of produce we call "local." Enjoy the abundance, knowing that behind each crop there are many people on the farm proud to deliver healthy produce to market every day.
Carolyn O’Donnell is communications director for the California Strawberry Commission. She can be reached at codonnell@calstrawberrry.org or at 831-724-1301.
Based on these guidelines, the Commission developed a training program for crew supervisors to educate their harvest crews. Designing this program required not only science resources, but experts in adult education and learning. The training tools had to be low-tech (no electricity or batteries required) for use in the field, and easy to understand. The result? A 65-page flipchart with illustrations shows typical field settings for crew supervisors to train their crews.
But, developing a tool is not useful if you don’t have enough information to know why you need the tool, let alone how to use it. Beginning with a pilot class in 2009, the program has now broadened in scope to encompass five classes, including training on how to be a good instructor in the field. In 2010, the commission received the NSF International Food Safety Award in Training in recognition for this comprehensive work.
In the fall of 2012, the Commission launched a Food Safety Certificate Program. The program consolidates all of the food safety classes developed since 2009 into a five-class curriculum for anyone with food safety responsibilities. Through these five classes, the program teaches key food safety practices necessary to minimize the risk of microbial contamination during the harvest, and the importance of on-farm assessments and documentation. Participants must pass a test on the content for each class to earn a food safety education certificate.
The program has trained hundreds of field supervisors, which impacts a majority of harvest workers. The commission education staff continues to work with farmers and crew supervisors to further improve food safety education and practices in the field.
Despite all of these guidelines and procedures and training, you, as a consumer, also have a food safety responsibility. Always wash your hands before preparing food, and always wash fresh produce before preparing and eating. Certainly we have seen a number of high profile food-borne illness outbreaks that occurred before the produce reached the market. But, many times these illnesses are a result of rushed or careless food preparation practices.
We live in a remarkable place, blessed with an abundance and diversity of produce we call "local." Enjoy the abundance, knowing that behind each crop there are many people on the farm proud to deliver healthy produce to market every day.
Carolyn O’Donnell is communications director for the California Strawberry Commission. She can be reached at codonnell@calstrawberrry.org or at 831-724-1301.

Ireland’s Advice: Boil and/or Wash the Hepatitis A Berries – Two Worldwide Outbreaks?
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/irelands-advice-boil-andor-wash-the-hepatitis-a-berries-two-worldwide-outbreaks/
By Bill Marler (July 21, 2013)
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSIA) recommends that until further notice the public should boil all imported frozen berries before consumption. Boiling for at least one minute will destroy the virus. We also remind consumers to wash all fresh berries, and other fruit and vegetables if eating them uncooked.
Friday, the FSAI updated the foodborne outbreak of Hepatitis A virus. 10 cases of Hepatitis A all belong to genotype 1A. Italy is also currently experiencing an outbreak of Hepatitis A infection involving genotype 1A. At the start of year the Italian outbreak appeared to be restricted to the autonomous provinces of Trento and Bolzano in northern Italy, however, it is now recognized to be a nationwide outbreak. The Italian authorities have detected the Hepatitis A virus in four frozen mixed berries products. The types of berries involved were raspberries, redcurrants, blackberries and blueberries. The frozen berry mix originated from Italy, with raw berry material sourced from various countries.
As of the 5th July 2013 a total of 59 confirmed cases and 103 probable cases of Hepatitis A infection were identified in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland. The cases of infection in these countries were caused by Hepatitis A genotype 1B. Frozen strawberries sourced in Egypt and Morocco are the most likely source of food causing the outbreak. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 150 people across eight States have been confirmed ill from Hepatitis A genotype 1B. Illness has been linked to eating a frozen berry and pomegranate seed mix. Data from their epidemiological investigation suggests the most likely source of the Hepatitis A virus appears to be a common shipment of pomegranate seeds from a company in Turkey. The outbreak strain, genotype 1B is rarely seen in the United States but circulates in the North Africa and Middle East regions. A 2012 Hepatitis A outbreak of genotype 1B in British Columbia is related to a frozen berry blend with pomegranate seeds from Egypt.

Why reusing your plastic bags could result in sickness
Source : http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/why-reusing-your-plastic-bags-could-result-in-sickness-29431833.html
By  AMANDA FERGUSON (July 19,2013)
Food safety chiefs have warned that people are risking their health by reusing carrier bags that have held raw meat and fish.
A shopping habits survey for the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in Northern Ireland revealed 65% of consumers admitted not keeping a separate reusable shopping bag for raw meat and fish.
The number of people recycling plastic and paper bags has risen significantly since the carrier bag levy was introduced in Northern Ireland three months ago.
But as raw meat can contain germs that cause salmonella, E.coli and campylobacter, the FSA has urged people not to let bad "shopping habits give them food poisoning".
Around 96% of 1,003 people surveyed by YouGov earlier this month said they have used reusable bags for food shopping since Stormont brought the bag levy in.
Of those, 82% said that they do separate fresh raw meat and fish from other ready-to-eat foods such as butter, bread, salads and cooked meats.
But only 35% of people who do this keep a separate reusable bag that they only use for fresh raw meat and fish items.
Michael Jackson, head of food safety at FSA in Northern Ireland, said: "Packing raw meat and fish with ready-to-eat foods can lead to spreading germs which can cause food poisoning, especially if there are any spillages or leaks from the raw meat packaging.
"While a carrier bag may look clean, there is always the potential for these germs to spread on to food which is ready to eat.
"That's why it's a good idea to have separate, identifiable bags for raw and ready-to eat-foods."
FACTFILE
As temperatures soar, so have sales of meat and fish as Northern Ireland goes barmy for barbecues. Traditionally the number of food poisoning cases doubles over the summer. To help prevent germs from spreading in carrier bags, consumers need to remember:
e Pack raw meat and fish separately from food that's ready to eat
e Keep a bag and use it only for raw meat and fish
e Bin the bag if there's been spillage of raw meat juices

Area farmers worry new food safety rules could be detrimental to small farms
Source : http://www.gazettenet.com/news/townbytown/granby/7637236-95/area-farmers-worry-new-food-safety-rules-could-be-detrimental-to-small-farms
By REBECCA EVERETT (July 18, 2013)
It’s not easy to get busy New England farmers to leave their farms in the middle of the growing season. But more than 50 from the Pioneer Valley crowded a South Deerfield meeting room Thursday to learn about new federal food safety rules that many worry could drive some out of business.
“Food safety is a good thing but the economic impact of these new rules means New England farmers are bearing a disproportionate burden,” said Roger Noonan, head of the New England Farmers Union.
The proposed rules, released in January as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act President Barack Obama signed into law Jan. 4, 2011, among other things, would require farmers that produce food generally eaten raw to test groundwater or river water used for irrigation and keep all animals out of fields. Farmers or facilities that process and pack produce or buy and sell it from other farms will also create a food safety plan that identifies potential hazards and procedures to prevent contamination.
Proponents say they will be a huge step toward preventing contamination of the country’s food. Opponents fear the new regulations may drive some farms out of business.
Russell Braen of Park Hill Orchard in Easthampton said that while the rules as proposed seem onerous and unenforceable, farmers will have to live with whatever the FDA decides. And as a man who came to farming later in life, he said he is constantly impressed by how farmers seem to get by, no matter what Mother Nature, the market or the government throws at them.
“It’s another seemingly insurmountable challenge,” he said.
The Food and Drug Administration, which proposed the rules, has acknowledged that the added cost for farmers to implement the changes will drive some small, higher-cost producers out of business, said Noonan, a New Hampshire farmer. The majority of farms in this part of the country fit that bill — they are small or mid-sized and face higher production costs because real estate costs, labor costs and taxes are higher here.
Rich Bonanno, a Methuen farmer, UMass Amherst Extension specialist and president of the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation, said that none of the high-profile instances of food contamination have come from the Northeast. He said the risk of contaminated produce is much greater in the western part of the country because produce from many different farms is often commingled before it is shipped to hundreds of stores.
Farmers meeting
Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) convened the meeting for area farmers at the Polish American Citizens Club so experts could answer farmers’ questions on the thousands of pages of proposed rules.
Ryan Voiland, co-owner of Red Fire Farm in Granby and Montague, said finding the time and money to comply with the rules won’t be easy.
“I’m worried about the cost of it,” he said. Many area farmers are living on an increasingly tight budget, he said. “Every time you turn around one more expense is going up. Something like this could make it impossible for us to stay in business, depending on how it’s interpreted.”
The FDA estimated that the cost to comply with the rules would be $4,697 for small farmers who make between $25,000 and $250,000 and about $13,000 for mid-sized farms who make between $250,000 to $500,000. But Noonan thinks the real cost will be double that. He said it will cost him $7,000 just to comply with one of the rules that requires farmers who irrigate crops with river or lake water to test the water once a week.
Another rule states that farmers cannot apply manure to their fields any less than nine months before harvest.
Bonanno said the rule is untenable for a working farm. The time period is overly cautious, he said, noting it is five months longer than is required under the USDA’s certified organic standards. “The nutrients from the manure will be gone by the time you plant,” he said.
Ashfield farmers Daniel Greene and Kyla Allon of Good Bunch Farm said that provision would likely mean they wouldn’t be able to use a field for a whole growing season. “We’re so small, we can’t take a field out of production,” Greene said.
Exemptions
The regulations exempt farms that make under $25,000 annually from food for humans or animals. For now, that includes Good Bunch Farm, which is still getting off the ground, Greene said. “I guess we’ll try not to make too much money,” he said with a laugh.
Some of the proposed changes could also negatively impact the environment, Noonan said. Farmers may have to stockpile manure they can’t spread, which could create more run-off into bodies of water, he said, and the provision requiring them to keep domestic and wild animals off the fields will lead to farmers clearing vegetation and other animal habitats from around their fields.
The pages of proposed rules still contain a lot of unanswered questions, he said, from who will be inspecting to ensure compliance to whether farmers can wash vegetables by dipping them in water. “This is like a Mad Lib. There are a lot of blanks to fill in,” he said.
The public comment period on the rules ends Sept. 16, and Bonanno and Noonan encouraged farmers to write letters to the FDA and local legislators in the hopes that the pressure will caused the FDA to reconsider certain provisions that would be burdensome to farmers. Bonanno said it would be ideal if the FDA could be convinced to exempt farms that get food safety certified under the state’s voluntary Commonwealth Quality Program.
The timeline for when the rules will be finalized and implemented is still unclear, but Bonanno said the FDA has signaled that it plans to make the rules official about a year after the comment period ends Sept. 16. The Center for Food Safety sued the FDA to speed up implementation, while the House of Representatives amended the farm bill it passed July 11 to delay the food safety rules until the FDA conducts a study on their economic impacts. The Senate has yet to vote on it.
Voiland, who will be penning letters to the FDA, said food safety is already a high priority at his farm and others in the area. “I’m confident our existing systems are good,” he said.

Farmers Concerned about Newly Proposed Food Safety Rules
Source : http://www.wggb.com/2013/07/18/farmers-concerned-about-newly-proposed-food-safety-rules/
By wggb.com (July 18, 2013)
SOUTH DEERFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) – Farmers from around New England met Thursday night in South Deerfield to discuss the FDA’s new food safety regulations.
The FDA is accepting their suggestions on the new regulations called the Food Safety Modernization Act through mid-September and the farmers came together Thursday to finalize them.
The new proposal is intended to help prevent food contamination.  But some area farmers say it’s going to be expensive to install the upgrades to their farms and will be time consuming to enforce the new rules.
They say that means it could limit accessibility to and drive up cost of fresh produce.
“We’re encouraging the eating of healthy fruits and vegetables, and that’s a public health outcome the FDA needs to take into account when they are looking at the impact of this rule,” says Roger Noonan, President of New England Farmers Union.
The FDA estimates the upgrades will costs farms anywhere from $4,000 to $30,000 dollars based on size, but farmers say they think it will cost much more.

After nearly 25 children tragically die, call for food testers
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/after-nearly-25-children-tragically-die-call-for-food-testers/#.UevNkmywet8
By Bill Marler (July 18, 2013)
As many as 24 other children and a cook are still under treatment at the Hospital.
According to Indian press reports, the Indian government has now made it mandatory for the principals and cooks of all primary schools in the state to taste mid-day meals before serving them to children.  The notice came in the wake of the death of as many as 25 children after they ate an insecticide-laced mid-day meal at a school in north Bihar.  The notice also said, “Officials of the education department going for inspection to schools should taste the meals cooked therein to ascertain their quality and mention the same in their inspection report.”
An interesting solution to a food safety problem.

Cyclospora Food Poisoning Outbreak: 4 Questions and Answers
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/cyclospora-food-poisoning-outbreak-4-questions-and-answers/
By Kathy Will (July 18, 2013)
1. How is Cyclospora transmitted by food?
Cyclospora Outbreak in Iowa and NebraskaCyclospora cayetanensis is a parasite. People can become infected with Cyclospora by ingesting sporulated oocysts, the infective form of the parasite, in food. Unsanitary conditions at a farm, processing plant or distribution center can allow human feces containing Cyclospora oocysts to contaminate food. It generally takes days or even weeks for these fecal oocysts to become sporulated, and thereby infective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). So the contamination of the food happens days or weeks before it is eaten. This makes it more difficult to find the source of a Cyclospora food poisoning outbreak.
2.  What evidence is needed to prove that a grower, processor, distributor, grocery store and/or restaurant is legally responsible for Cyclospora infections?
According to Fred Pritzker, a national food safety lawyer, the epidemiological evidence gathered by state and local health departments can prove that a grower, processor, distributor, grocery store and/or restaurant is legally responsible for an outbreak of Cyclospora infections. If most of the people sickened in an outbreak ate at the same restaurant (either one location or several locations if it is a chain restaurant) that is sufficient evidence to file lawsuits seeking compensation for the victims.  According to Pritzker, compensation can include amounts for hospital and other medical costs, lost wages, pain, emotional suffering, loss of quality of life and other lawful damages.
3. What foods can cause Cyclospora infection outbreaks?
In the United States past Cyclospora outbreaks have all been caused by imported fresh produce, including raspberries, basil, snow peas, and mesclun lettuce. Other fresh produce imported from south of the boarder (purple onions, green onions, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, peppers) could get contaminated and cause an outbreak. Fresh vegetables are the most likely source of the current Cyclospora outbreak in Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, Illinois, Kansas and Wisconsin, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.  Fresh in this context means not cooked because one can’t get a Cyclosora infection from garden-fresh vegetables.  Olive products and other salad ingredients could potentially be contaminated by imported produce.
4. Should cyclosporiasis be reported to a state health department and the CDC?
Yes, every case of cyclosporiasis (the illness caused by Cyclospora parasites), should be reported to a state health department, which then should report the case to the CDC. The CDC has a Cyclosporiasis Surveillance Case Report form for this purpose.  CDC, in collaboration with public health departments, analyzes each reported case for evidence of linkage to other cases. This facilitates rapid identification and investigation of outbreaks.

Poor quality, hygiene: It was waiting to happen
Source : http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-07-18/india/40656233_1_midday-meals-bihar-government-sc-guidelines
By Subodh Varma (July 18, 2013)
While it's yet unclear what caused the food poisoning that killed 27 Bihar schoolkids, the midday meal scheme in the state is a mess. A disaster of the kind that devastated Dharmasati village near Chhapra was waiting to happen.
A recent Programme Approval Board (PAB) review that approves the scheme's annual work plan and budget in Bihar said monitoring bodies sent to some districts had reported shortcomings.
"Most schools often served average quality food items in unhygienic surroundings," they reported. In areas the monitoring bodies visited "food was cooked and kept in the open and dirty ground". Children, parents and the community were unhappy with the quality of food.
How do schools store food and where do they cook it? As per SC directives, the Centre allocated funds for pucca kitchen-cum-stores. For Bihar, between 2006-07 and 2011-12, it gave Rs 44,640 lakh for 65,977 such structures, PAB meeting minutes said. The central ministry's appraisal revealed the Bihar government had built just 47,002 kitchen-cum-stores, 71% of target. The balance 29% had not even been started. But this didn't prevent the state from claiming Rs 3,506 lakh to buy 86,248 kitchen devices. The state also claimed replacement of 35,760 units till this February. Kitchen devices include stoves and utensils.
Another aspect is the irregularity of serving midday meals. Last year, between April and December, of the 167 days schools worked, meals weren't served on 33 days in the primary and 36 days in upper-primary. In this period, the state should've used up 75% of the grain allocated. But it lifted only 61%. Bihar hasn't even appointed cooks and helpers as per SC guidelines. 183,583 cooks-cum-helpers were to be appointed but only 168,340 were working. The SC had fixed number of cooks to the number of students to avoid negligence in cooking.
These are part of a larger neglect of this nutrition and enrolment scheme. In Bihar, 80 lakh of the 1.47 crore primary school children are served midday meals. Of 53 lakh children in upper primary, 26 lakh are covered. This, despite a strong SC order issued in 2001 and repeated over the years to give all children cooked meals.
The Bihar government has succeeded on one count: inspections of schools to check how meals are prepared and distributed — 97% schools were inspected till last December. PAB noted the government order on ranking of officers linked to their carrying out inspections. But, was the school in Dharmasati inspected? To what end?

Indian school lunch tragedy reveals problems with food safety
Source : http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Global-News/2013/0717/Indian-school-lunch-tragedy-reveals-problems-with-food-safety
By Jeremy Ravinsky (July 17, 2013)
The usually busy markets closed early today, and traffic is almost nonexistent in the town of Chapra, in India’s Bihar Province. But the streets are far from quiet. A bandh, or demonstration, has been called and protesters are out on the street, demanding answers for the tragedy that struck this small provincial city some 550 miles from New Delhi.
As of midday on Wednesday, 22 children – all under the age of 12 – have died after eating tainted government school lunch program meals, while dozens more are reported to be seriously ill. The deaths have shed light on serious problems with India's school meal programs, which are designed to increase attendance and combat India’s high rates of child malnutrition.
According to the Indian Express, the incident took place at a public elementary school in the Saran district of Bihar, about 15 miles away from Chapra. Traces of organophosphorus, an organic compound used in pesticides, were found in the meal served to students. One of the cooks is also reported to be ill.
The meals were part of the Mid-Day Meal Scheme, a government program aimed at encouraging school attendance by offering free food to pupils, reports the BBC. The program impacts some 120 million children across the country – making it one of the largest in the world – and is intended to not only increase literacy but also put a dent in India’s chronic malnutrition problem.
Despite India’s impressive economic growth, it is still home to approximately one third of all malnourished children in the world, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). That’s more than all of sub-Saharan Africa.
Progress has been made on the issue. According to a report released in January 2012, India’s child malnutrition rate fell more than 10 points to 42 percent. While the figures are still alarmingly high, the government is starting to make attempts to fight child malnutrition, reports The Washington Post. India has seen large expansions in child welfare services and efforts to improve education in rural parts of the country.
Since the Mid-Day Meal Scheme was implemented in the 1960s it has been seen as a success overall, writes BBC’s Soutik Biswas. But gains made by the program have been marred by reports of corruption, negligence, and poor food inspection and hygiene, reports The Wall Street Journal:
“Staff had not been trained properly and lack the capacity to carry out proper monitoring,” said Yamini Aiyar, director of the Accountability Initiative at the Centre for Policy Research, a New Delhi-based think-tank that carried out the study. The study was published in June.
State government officials monitor the quality and delivery of meals to schools, but only district authorities can implement changes to the system and this can take considerable time, Ms. Aiyar said.
There have been other cases of children dying after eating school food. Two children from Panipat, in Haryana state, died in March after eating a free meal under the program. And in May, 18 girls from another district in Bihar state fell ill after eating a meal at school, according to the Hindu.
Still, none of the cases have been as grave as the recent tragedy in Bihar, where, according to the Times of India, students and parents have often complained about the quality of the food, having found dead lizards, insects, and a rat in the school-distributed meals.
Bihar’s chief minister, Nitish Kumar, has ordered an investigation, reports Reuters. He has also offered 200, 000 rupees ($3,400) to the families of victims as compensation.
This has done little to satisfy community members in Chapra, where violent protests have broken out amid speculation of foul play, reports the Telegraph.
The Telegraph's South Asia editor Dean Nelson said that allegations that the authorities took 15 hours to hospitalise the sick children led to dozens of residents taking to the streets in Chapra, pelting a police station with stones and setting ablaze buses and other vehicles.
"There have also been allegations that the cause of these death may have been deliberate, the government education minister in Bihar is saying this is not normal food poisoning," he added.

European Lawmakers Dismayed by Lack of Prosecutions in Horse Meat Scandal
Source : http://www.foodproductdesign.com/news/2013/07/european-lawmakers-dismayed-by-lack-of-prosecutio.aspx
By foodproductdesign.com (July 17, 2013)
The evidence suggests the horse meat scandal in Europe was tainted by fraud, a committee appointed by UK's House of Commons stated in a report published Tuesday. 
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee expressed its dismay that no one has been prosecuted in the UK or Ireland where the contaminated horse meat was first identified.
"The evidence we received from retailers and food processors in the UK and Ireland suggests a complex, highly organized network of companies trading in and mislabeling frozen and processed meat or meat products in a way that fails to meet specifications and that is fraudulent and illegal," the report stated. "We are concerned at the failure of authorities in both the UK and Ireland to acknowledge the extent of this and to bring prosecutions." 
Across the member states of the European Union, 4.66% of beef products tested for horse DNA contained positive results for traces of horsemeat, with the largest number of positive tests being identified in France, Greece and Denmark; only 1% of the samples tested positive in the UK, the report said. 
The scandal came to light early this year after health officials discovered horse meat labeled as beef in Ireland.
The food committee cited the challenges of tracing the source of the contamination in a global supply chain and it noted that the supply chain may not have kept adequate records.
"The system for food traceability, including the requirement that at every stage in the supply chain operators must keep records of the source of each product and its next destination, has been breached," the report stated. "Retailers and meat processors should have been more vigilant against the risk of deliberate adulteration. Trust is not a sufficient guarantee where meat is traded many times before reaching its final destination."
The committee said retailers should regularly test meat and meat ingredients for DNA, report the results to the UK's Food Standards Agency and publish the summary on their websites.
Earlier this year, a UK government official, Owen Paterson, characterized the horse meat scandal as "an attempt to defraud the consumer."
"The prime responsibility for dealing with this lies with retailers and food producers who need to demonstrate that they have taken all necessary actions to ensure the integrity of the food chain in this country," he said in the House of Commons.

Marler Clark Files Second E. coli Lawsuit Against Lombard Mexican Restaurant
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/marler-clark-files-second-e-coli-lawsuit-against-lombard-mexican-restaurant/#.UevPr2ywet8
By Bruce Clark (July 16, 2013)
Seattle-based Marler Clark and Chicago-based Newland & Newland filed a second E. coli lawsuit yesterday against Los Burritos Mexicanos on behalf of a man who claims to have fallen ill with an E. coli infection after eating at the restaurant.
Los Burritos Mexicanos was sued yesterday by a man who alleges he fell ill with an E. coli infection and was hospitalized after eating food prepared at the restaurant in June.  The lawsuit is the second filed against the restaurant in DuPage County Superior Court by Seattle-based Marler Clark, the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of foodborne illness, and Chicago-based Newland & Newland.
In the lawsuit, plaintiff Quinten Hayley alleges he fell ill with an E. coli infection after eating at Los Burritos Mexicanos on June 7, 2013.  Mr. Hayley alleges that he fell ill with symptoms of E. coli infection, including bloody diarrhea and severe abdominal cramps, on June 10 and was admitted to the hospital after a visit to the Emergency Room on June 11.  Court documents state that Mr. Hayley was hospitalized for four days and has continued to experience symptoms of E. coli infection since being discharged on June 14.  The complaint states that a stool specimen submitted while the plaintiff was hospitalized tested positive for E. coli O157:H7.   The DuPage County Health Department announced that at least 31 people, including one who developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome have been linked to this E. coli outbreak.

Cyclospora Attorney Investigates Lawsuit for Outbreak in Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Kansas, Texas and Wisconsin
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/cyclospora-attorney-investigates-lawsuit-for-outbreak-in-iowa-nebraska-illinois-kansas-texas-and-wisconsin/
By Kathy Will (July 17, 2013)
Cyclospora Outbreak in Iowa and NebraskaAttorney Ryan Osterholm is actively investigating the Cyclospora outbreak that has sickened people in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas and Wisconsin. The source of the outbreak has not been definitively identified, but it is a vegetable product that was widely distributed to several locations. The tainted product may have found its way to restaurants, grocery stores and food service companies.
“Cyclospora is a nasty bug. The outbreak victims who have contacted our law firm have suffered severe diarrhea for days or weeks,” said Osterholm, a national food safety lawyer. “Sulfa (sulfamethoxazole) is used in combination with another antibiotic to treat Cyclospora infections, so victims who are allergic to sulfa are left without a good treatment option and may be sick for months.”
The illness caused by the parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis is called cyclosporiasis, an intestinal illness that causes watery, sometimes explosive, diarrhea. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps/pain, bloating, increased gas, nausea, fatigue, vomiting, body aches, headache, fever and other flu-like symptoms.
Ryan Osterholm is an attorney with Pritzker|Olsen law firm. He and the firm’s Bad Bug Law Team have won millions for food poisoning victims in personal injury lawsuits throughout the United States. Osterholm can be reached for a free consultation at 1-888-377-8900 (toll free).

Sweden’s food safety watchdog finds arsenic in Chinese herbal remedy
Source : http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/07/16/swedens-food-safety-watchdog-finds-arsenic-in-chinese-herbal-remedy/
By Agence France-Presse (July 16, 2013)
Sweden’s food safety watchdog said on Tuesday it had found “extremely high” levels of arsenic in a Chinese herbal remedy, posing a “very serious health hazard.”
The toxic substance was found in a product called Niu-Huang Chieh-tu-pien, which is claimed by online vendors of traditional Chinese medicine to cure numerous conditions, including toothache, skin infections, anorexia and fever in infants.
The product is also sold under the Indian names Divya Kaishore Guggul and Chandraprabha Vati.
“The recommended dose provides a daily amount of inorganic arsenic which in a worst case scenario equals half a lethal dose,” said Leif Busk, a toxicologist at the National Food Agency.
“Consequently, anyone who eats it can be very seriously affected. It’s frightening to think there are companies selling these very hazardous preparations.”
The product was discovered and removed from shelves in Stockholm this summer, but could still be on sale in other Swedish cities. It can also be bought on the Internet.
Local authorities in Stockholm have issued a warning to other European countries through an EU alert system, according to the agency.

House farm bill provision could delay new food safety regulations
Source : http://thehill.com/blogs/regwatch/pending-regs/311351-farm-bill-provision-would-slam-brakes-on-food-safety-push
By Ben Goad (July 16,2013)
Efforts to implement the largest overhaul of food safety regulations in 70 years could be imperiled by a provision included in the House-passed farm bill headed to the Senate on Tuesday.
The House legislation, approved last week, contains an amendment requiring the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct a “scientific and economic analysis” of regulations drafted under the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA), further delaying the enactment of new food safety rules.
The FDA proposed the rules in January, following bipartisan approval of the legislation in late 2010. The law, signed by President Obama the following January, requires farmers and other food producers to adhere to a new set of guidelines, replacing a system that had largely been designed to respond to outbreaks from food-borne illnesses rather than prevent them.
Food safety advocates have complained that the enactment of the new standards has been fraught with delays, and have taken the Obama administration to court in an effort to speed up the process. The FDA now faces a June 2015 deadline to finalize the rules meant to protect the public.
The House bill language, penned by Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.), would further complicate enactment of the rules.
“This basically would slow the wheels of FSMA implementation by allowing another roadblock,” said Colin O’Neil, director of government affairs for the Center for Food Safety.
Sen. Tom Harkin (Iowa) is among the congressional Democrats who are critical of the provision, tweeting last week that the bill “would undermine critical food safety law — while food-borne illness affects 1 in 6/year.”
Benishek drafted the provision to protect farmers in his state from burdensome regulations, his spokesman said.
"Simply put, we lose jobs in Northern Michigan when Washington bureaucrats enact costly new rules that hurt our farmers and agricultural businesses," Kyle Bonini said.
The House was to send its bill to the other end of the Capitol Building on Tuesday after Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) accused GOP leaders of dragging their feet on the bill.
Once it is received in the Senate, Democrats could appoint members of a House-Senate conference committee tasked with reconciling the bill with legislation passed earlier in the upper chamber.
O’Neil said he was hopeful that Harkin, a member of the Agriculture Committee and chairman of the Senate Health Committee, and other food safety proponents, would be appointed to participate in the upcoming negotiations.

Chickens From Farmers Markets May Have More Pathogenic Bacteria
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/chickens-from-farmers-markets-may-have-more-pathogenic-bacteria/
By Linda Larsen (July 16, 2013)
A study conducted at Penn State has found that raw, whole chickens from farmers markets throughout that state had “significantly higher levels of bacteria that can cause foodborne illness compared to those purchased from grocery stores in the region.” Out of 100 whole chickens purchased at farmers markets, 90% tested positive for Campylobacter and 28% for Salmonella.
During the same time period, 28% of raw, whole, organic chickens bought at grocery stores had Campylobacter, and 20% tested positive for Salmonella. And 52% of raw, whole, non-organic, conventionally processed chickens from grocery stores had Campylobacter and 8% had Salmonella bacteria.
Dr. Catherine Cutter, professor and food safety extension specialist at the University, said, “some people believe that local food is safer, but we want to caution that’s not always the case.” Consumers are buying more food locally. Concerns about antibiotic resistance and animal-welfare issues in large factory farms may partially explain the switch. This small study should be replicated, Dr. Cutter said.
A survey was developed for poultry vendors to find out what caused this discrepancy. The researchers in this study think that antimicrobial interventions during processing, which are used on chickens processed from large farms, are not being used at individual farms. The univeristy is preparing educational materials and food safety training for vendors selling poultry products at farmers markets.
These results stress the fact that consumers should treat all raw meats as potentially contaminated, and handle them with care. Thorough cooking of poultry to a temperature of 165 degrees F as confirmed by a food thermometer, hand-washing, cleaning surfaces and utensils, and avoiding cross-contamination are all key to keeping your family safe from food poisoning.

Possible MA Salmonella Outbreak: Clover Restaurants and Food Trucks Close
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/possible-ma-salmonella-outbreak-clover-restaurants-and-food-trucks-close/
By Linda Larsen (July 15, 2013)
The Clover Food Labs in Massachusetts, which operates restaurants and mobile food trucks, has closed all operations because of a possible Salmonella outbreak in that state. Some of the confirmed cases ate at Clover before becoming ill. The organization decided to close as a precaution to clean and sanitize all of the restaurants and food trucks.
There is no word on what may have caused the outbreak, and the Massachusetts Department of Health doesn’t have any official information about the illnesses. Salmonella can be in eggs, on poultry and other raw meats, and in unpasteurized milk. It can also contaminate other foods through cross-contamination and through contact with someone who is sick with salmonellosis.
The food sold at Clover is vegetarian, so owners are focusing on eggs, and also the possibility that a sick person may have spread the bacteria. They are working with the City of Cambridge and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. So far, 12 people have been diagnosed with lab-confirmed Salmonella infections. The latest case was reported on June 27, 2013.
The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chills, abdominal cramps, headache, and muscle pains. If you are experiencing these symptoms, see your health care provider. Salmonella infections can have serious complications, including Reiter’s syndrome, which can cause reactive arthritis.

Funeral Salmonella Case in West Alabama from Cross-contamination
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/funeral-salmonella-case-in-west-alabama-from-cross-contamination/
By Kathy Will (July 15, 2013)
Cross-contamination during meal time is probably what caused a virulent outbreak of Salmonella in the west Alabama town of York. Dr. Mary McIntyre, assistant state health officer for disease control and prevention , said at least 67 people are affected from as many as 10 states because the July 6 meal they shared was at a heavily visited Eastern Star Baptist Church funeral.
“If you attended this event and are ill, please contact your physician,” McIntyre said in a news release from Montgomery, Alabama. She said several people continue to be hospitalized, some in serious condition. The task of investigators has been complicated by the fact that many funeral-goers went to hospitals in their home states — at least 10 outside Alabama.
According to the Alabama Bureau of Clinical Laboratories, five of the outbreak victims are confirmed to have Salmonella Heidelberg infections. Food poisoning experts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced the completion of a separate Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak, one that sickened 134 people and was linked to Foster Farms brand chicken.
In the Alabama funeral outbreak, Public Health’s investigation began after a report from a local hospital that several people had been seeking emergency room care with symptoms of fever, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. “The preliminary investigative findings suggest the illness was caused by cross contamination during meal preparation,” McIntyre said.
Salmonella attorney Fred Pritzker, whose Bad Bug Law Team has recovered tens of millions of dollars for food poisoning survivors, has directed lawyers for the firm to conduct an independent investigation of the Alabama funeral Salmonella case on behalf of victims. He said cross-contamination issues usually hint at improper training of kitchen staff. Examples of past Salmonella outbreaks due to cross-contamination have involved mishandling of raw eggs or raw poultry — both of which are sometimes contaminated in their raw form.

 

 


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